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Shop Detroit for last minute gifts on Dec. 13 and 20

Detroit Synergy is back with Shop Detroit -- but this year it has grown from a one-day event to four days over four weekends with four distinct destinations. Two of the weekends have passed, but you still have a chance to participate on December 13 at the Russell Industrial Center and on December 20 in Eastern Market.

At the Russell, check in at the Russell Bazaar Food Court -- that's the easternmost building in the complex -- between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Shoppers can hit the Bazaar for a mix of eclectic goods, and Synergy volunteers will also provide a list of the many artists in the complex that will be on-site selling their work that day.

The following weekend, meet at Eastern Market's Shed 5, just south of Wilkins, between 11 and 4 p.m. Event organizer Alok Sharma anticipates up to 20 retailers will participate, giving lots of options for the rapidly approaching holidays. At noon and 2 p.m., Inside Detroit will give free guided tours of the Market's specialty shops, restaurants and lofts.

The first Shop Detroit day was held downtown on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. More than 100 shoppers turned out. This past weekend, the event moved up to Midtown in conjuntion with Noel Night and drew another 60. Sharma says feedback from retailers has been positive. "Stores said that people were definitely in buying mode when they showed up," he says.

The event is free and registrants receive a Shop Detroit tote bag.

Source: Alok Sharma, Detroit Synergy
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo: Marvin Shaouni

D-Biz: Berg Muirhead celebrates 10 years of spreading the word about Detroit

A decade ago when public relations firm Berg Muirhead opened its doors in the Fisher Building, General Motors was still HQ-ed in New Center – now it’s a State of Michigan, College for Creative Studies and TechTown neighborhood.

While many things have changed in the last ten years, Berg Muirhead has stayed constant in its devotion to trumpeting all things good in Detroit. And while that may seem like a natural act for a PR company, Berg Muirhead has found a niche in talking about what is truly good to continue to grow.

Co-founders Bob Berg and Georgella Muirhead both have municipal backgrounds; they first worked together in the Coleman A. Young administration. Later down the road, they joined forces to handle the logistics and press when the Mayor passed away – and the experience helped them decide to go into business together. “We started the agency not just to start a business, but to become part of the community, a contributing member of the community,” says Berg.

The firm’s 13 employees are kept busy with clients like Youthville, the Skillman Foundation, St. Vincent de Paul and Adult Well-being Services. Two of their clients, Strategic Staffing Solutions and The Grand Hotel, have been with them since day one – “I hope that means they’re happy,” laughs Berg.

Source: Bob Berg, Berg Muirhead
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo: Marvin Shaouni

CCS moving full steam ahead with Argonaut Building redevelopent

The largest development project in Southeast Michigan is proceeding in New Center as we speak. And by proceeding, we mean moving really, really quickly.

In September 2009, the redevelopment of the Argonaut Building will be finished and will open as the home of the College for Creative Studies' undergraduate and graduate programs in design, additional student housing and a design-oriented middle and high school.

With that looming deadline, many tasks have already been completed, including remediation, complete demolition of a parking structure and selective interior demolition. All new windows will be installed starting this week, foundation and mechanical systems work is underway, and interior buildout and construction of a new parking structure and gymnasium are just over the horizon.

Up to 200 tradespeople have been onsite at any given day through the current phase of construction; that will now begin to ramp up considerably. Eric Larson of Larson Realty Group, the project's development manager, estimates that up to 400 per day will be kept working until the project wraps up in July.

Larson is managing a large and diverse group of talent to complete the task at hand, including architects-of-record Albert Kahn Associates; general contractor Walbridge Aldinger; parking garage contractors Colasanti Group and consultants Rich & Associates; architectural design consultants, San Diego-based Luce Studio; Preservation Development; and Jones Lang LaSalle.

That's the kind of team needed to pull off a $145,000,000 restoration of a 760,000-square-foot building. "This is an important project and a big project and a very dynamic project in what it is doing to restore a piece of Detroit history and what it can do in terms of going forward, by helping to change Detroit's economic engine," says Larson.

Read more about the specific uses of the building here.

Source: Eric Larson, Larson Realty Group
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo: Marvin Shaouni

Kellogg grant to promote Detroit's tourist nodes

The Kellogg Foundation has granted the Tourism and Economic Development Council $75,000 to support "Developing the D," a plan to build a "Destination Districts" initiative that will attract and retain residents, draw new visitors and spur investment in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Monroe counties.

In the city proper, TEDC director Jim Townsend says the aim is to leverage and support existing developments -- like the RiverWalk -- and to ultimately link them.

The program's targets are tourists as well as current and potential residents. He says the same amenities that make a visit to a city enjoyable also make it livable. "It's really interdependent and kind of symbiotic," he says. "People travel to urban destinations for many of the same reasons that people move to or stay in an urban area."

Initiatives that TEDC will be looking at connecting and promoting include transit, housing, greenspace and greenway developments. He says great cities and cool neighborhoods offer "walkability" and "unexpected great moments."

"Detroit has bones, pockets, of the same experience, there are some isolated successes, but to really achieve our goal for talent and tourists, we've got to build out and link and effectively market," he says.

Ultimately, Townsend hopes that each distinct district -- those being Greater Downtown, Dearborn/Wayne, Macomb County and North and South Oakland County -- work in collaboration and support with one another, rather than in competition. "They're all quite different," he says.

Source: Jim Townsend, TEDC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo: Marvin Shaouni

Goodwill Industries to 'flip the script' at new facility

Goodwill Industries has relocated its "Flip the Script" program from its headquarters near the Motor City Casino Hotel to the Grand Boulevard/Woodward area, giving it double the capacity.

Flip the Script works with males aged 16 to 30, specifically in terms of work-readiness. Since its establishment in 2003, 80 percent of the program's graduates have engaged in meaningful careers, many in the world of construction. The new space, located at 7700 Second Ave., will allow 180 men to participate in the 16-week program each year.

The expansion will also allow for two program extensions: an “In School Male Youth Flip” program for boys and girls ages 12 to 17 in an after-school and evening curriculum and the establishment of Detroit's Annie E. Casey Center for Working Families.

The Annie E. Casey Center is a collaborative effort between Goodwill Industries, the United Way and the
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). "This is part of a national initiative that has now found its way to Detroit," says Keith Bennett, Flip the Script's program manager. "It will work with low- and moderate-income families and start getting them involved in some real financial literacy."

Bennett calls the program's new space "very, very aesthetically nice," and has noticed the effect that its other professional tenants have had on his clients. "As soon as they hit the doors, it makes their behavior go up a couple of notches -- it's a different environment than high school or middle school -- we're here to take care of business."

Funding for the Flip the Script expansion comes from the Kresge Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and LISC's “Neighborhoods Now" program. The program currently occupies just under 9,000 square feet of the building's fifth floor, but an option to expand an additional 6,500 square feet is possible.

Source: Keith Bennett, Goodwill Industries
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


SDAT wrap-up: A look at what's next for AIA's sustainability audit

Austainability experts from around the country joined with local architects, planners and other interested parties in Midtown Detroit for an SDAT, or Sustainable Design Assessment Team, charette, recently.

Given estimates that Detroit will continue to shrink -- down to about 500,000 or 600,000 residents by 2025, they looked at what to do with 88 square miles of land that is essentially excess.

The group looked at developing the core 50 square miles of livable space  developed as a series of densely populated urban villages -- looking specifically at Southwest Detroit, Corktown, Downtown, Eastern Market, Woodbridge, Midtown and New Center -- each with housing, recreation, entertainment and work opportunities, and each linked to each other and the main urban core.

From this base, SDAT worked at making policy and design recommendations in five areas, all of which intersect and feed into the urban villages concept: community development, transportation and transit, open space, economic development and local food systems and community gardens.

Some points of note: Many ideas centered on one of the city's greatest assets, the Detroit River -- for example, "blueways" were discussed as a mode of transportation; the importance of incorporating wind turbines into Detroit's energy system was stressed; Eastern Market was lauded as "the best farmers market in the country" by Edwin Marty, the executive director of Jones Valley Urban Farm in Alabama; reduction of energy costs for individuals was stressed as a method of creating wealth; and local food production within each urban village node was recommended.

A strategy was developed for the creation of 75,000 jobs over 10 years by leveraging new green industries as well as existing employment leaders like health care.

Next step: implementation. Local SDAT leaders will begin working with organizations and institutions to move its strategies forward. Funding from Kresge Foundation has been secured to undergo this process, and State of Michigan Energy Department funds will be used to conduct energy audits and technical assistance.

For more information, check out Zachary and Associate's web site or contact Zachary at 313-831-6100 or WARM Training Center at 313-894-1030.

Source: Diane VanBuren Jones, WARM
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


$47.1M neighborhood stabilization plan presented to Council

One month ago, Housing and Urban Development awarded the city of Detroit $47.1 million to stabilize housing in light of the current foreclosure crisis.

Before spending it, the city must develop a plan that is approved by Detroit City Council and then HUD. Last week, Planning and Development took the first step and presented the plan to Council's Economic Development Committee.

The plan focuses on three things: reversal of the decline of neighborhood housing values; significant elimination of blighted and abandoned structures; and stimulation of investment in and around targeted neighborhoods.

The plan can be downloaded at PDD's site; public comment is welcomed until November 20 at 313-224-6380 or NSP@detroitmi.gov. On Nov. 21, it will go to the full Council followed by submittal to HUD on Dec. 1.

Read more about the grant, the process and guidelines here.

Source: Sylvia Crawford, PDD
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Henry Ford Health System opens TechTown lab

On Nov. 5, Henry Ford Hospital celebrated the grand opening of its three clinical and research labs that were recently moved to TechTown in New Center.

The labs will allow room for the hospital's genetics department to grow by providing dedicated lab space for DNA and cytogenetic diagnosis. Additional room for a drug discovery laboratory will explore new options for cancer treatment of solid tumors. The TechTown space on TechOne's fourth floor is nearly triple the size that was occupied on Henry Ford's main campus.

Dr. Barry Wolf, the chair of Henry Ford's genetics department, says that while the space issue was the primary reason for the move, a secondary one was talent and personnel opportunities that TechTown can offer.

Approximately 40 to 50 Henry Ford employees have made the move. Read more about the development here.

Source: Dr. Barry Wolf, Henry Ford Hospital 
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Round-up: Angelina is indeed open, as is Peaches and Greens

A few morsels for the nibbling:
  • Angelina Italian Bistro is officially open for lunch seven days a week and dinner every day but Monday. Downtown's newest entrant to the dining scene is already getting rave reviews. Read more about the restaurant here.

  • Back in September, we were a bit premature in reporting that Peaches & Greens was open. Sorry, we were just excited that a neighborhood produce market was coming to town. But anyhoo, now it is open, six days a week, and you can read more about it here.

  • If lack of wi-fi access was keeping you from a visit to Mercury Coffee Bar, have no fear -- the shop now offers it. Read more here.
  • Greening of Detroit is having its last planting of the season on November 15 and could use some volunteers. The plan is to plant 65 trees at Delores Bennitt Park in the Northend Neighborhood from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call Monica Tabares at 313-237-8733 to sign up.
  • And finally, happy birthday to the fabulous Fisher Building, today celebrating its 80th. Commissioned by the Fisher brothers, and designed by Albert Kahn, it is inarguably one of Detroit's most beautiful structures. Sto Lat
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


New Amsterdam offers lofts, retail space to rent in New Center

Loft-hunters, take note: the Lofts at New Amsterdam are now leasing. There are one-, two- and three-bedroom units as well as ground-floor retail space available for rent in Detroit's New Center area.

Residential units range in size from 720 to 1,600 square feet and in price from $875 to $1,750. The largest unit is three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The rest of the units have one bathroom; there are two with three bedrooms, 34 with two and 13 with one. "These units are nice and spacious, and the windows are beautiful," says leasing director Judy Jonna. "There's a lot of character in this building."

The retail space has a mezzanine and can be subdivided into up to four distinct offices or shops.

Developed by Jonna Detroit, New Amsterdam is thick in the middle of TechTown and just south of the New Center commercial district. Its location is what Jonna thinks will be a big selling point to prospective tenants.

"We're kitty-corner from One Ford Place and less than a block from the State of Michigan building," she says. She also points out that the Henry Ford Hospital shuttle stops right in front of the building.

The Lofts at New Amsterdam are located at 6200 Second Ave. at Amsterdam. Viewing by appointment only; call Judy Jonna at 313-832-0200.

Source: Judy Jonna, Jonna Lofts
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo by Marvin Shaouni

Greening of Detroit plants Christmas tree farm in Northend Neighborhood

Greening of Detroit's latest tree nursery includes not just shade trees, but Douglas Firs as well. "This one’s a little bit different," says president Rebecca Salminen Witt. "We will grow these little trees up as Christmas trees, which will actually generate revenue for the neighborhood and fund replanting the next batch of little trees."

The nursery was planted on Oct. 3 at 600 King Street, a vacant lot in the Northend neighborhood -- where the 100 shade trees will ultimately be planted after three to five years of growth. A total of 200 trees, including those destined to become holiday decorations, were planted in total by more than 100 volunteers.

Witt hopes that a few of Greening's planned 120 nurseries around Detroit will be Christmas tree farms -- and that they might inspire budding entrepreneurs. "We hope someone might see this as a good little business for them," she says. "This is about economic development as well as vacant space redevelopment."

From an organizational standpoint, the nurseries have a big job to fill. Greening is working to some day grow all the trees they plant right here in Detroit. "It's a way to reinvest these dollars rather than sending dollars out to Iowa for trees grown out there," says Witt.

The planting was supported by the Next Detroit Neighborhood Initiative and volunteers from the Ford Business Unit of the Yazaki Corporation as well as residents from Holbrook-King and Alger Street Block Clubs. "It was nice -- folks came out on their porches and then filtered in," says Witt. "It was the perfect example of a community project."

Source: Rebecca Salminen Witt, Greening of Detroit
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo by Marvin Shaouni

Model D Radio: Public weighs in on private transit plan

Frequency. Quality. Reliability. This is what people tell John Hertel, local transit czar and a speaker at our next Speaker Series event, they want. He has been taking public input on the plan crafted by the Regional Transportation Coordinating Council.

The plan, among other things, would put light rail on Woodward between Jefferson and Grand. Hertel talked with concerned residents at as series of meetings, the last of which was at TechTown last week.

This radio program also can be heard on public radio stations across the state, including WDET 101.9 FM in Detroit. It is sponsored in part by Model D and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

For more on Michigan NOW, click here.



City Council adopts non-motorized plan that calls for 400 miles of bike lanes in the Motor City

Detroit City Council has adopted a non-motorized transportation plan as well as a resolution urging Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. to implement it. Among other things, the plan calls for more than 400 miles of bike lanes, as well as other improvements to pedestrian and bike facilities. The Michigan Department of Transportation funded the plan's development; the city brought on Giffels-Webster Engineers as consultants to design it.

Scott Clein of Giffels-Webster says that the adoption of the plan means many things to proponents of non-motorized transportation. For starters, MDOT will now attempt to incorporate its recommendations into any future roadway projects it undertakes in the city, such as the reconstruction of Michigan Avenue.

It also does the same for city departments like the Department of Public Works. "DPW is now in charge of supporting and, hopefully, implementing portions of the master plan," says Clein.

The adoption of the plan means that community groups working to establish bike lanes know that the government, at least on paper, is on board. Clein cites Greater Corktown Development Corporation's Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink as an example. "Now they know that the city will be supportive instead of obstructionists," he says.

DPW is in the process of writing a letter of conceptual support to MDOT, a step necessary for the project to capture funds the state committed to it a few years ago.

Besides bike lanes, the plan looks at pedestrian safety via the separation of bikes and pedestrians and the continued improvements of sidewalks.

Read more about the plan here.

Source: Scott Clein, Giffels-Webster
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo by Marvin Shaouni

New Center targets infrastructure near Argonaut with $656,600 earmark

New Center just landed itself a $656,600 federal earmark that will be used to improve infrastructure in the area near the Argonaut Building, which is being developed to house the College for Creative Studies' graduate programs as well as student housing.

New Center Council had initially envisioned $3 million worth of infrastructure improvements, but scaled the plans back according to the funding received to date. "With CCS announcing their expansion to New Center we decided the best use of the funds would be to augment the areas that would support the new development," says Karen Gage, NCC's vice president.

The railroad viaducts at Woodward, Second and Cass will be cleaned up and lit. Art installations, with support from CCS and Summer in the City, also will be added. "Our hope is that we can finally clean up this dividing line between New Center and Wayne State University, and open the flow of pedestrian traffic between these areas," says Gage.

The earmark will also fund the construction of a 120-vehicle parking lot behind the White Castle on Woodward at E. Baltimore. "This is a retail parking lot that, hopefully, will spur development in the retail strip along Woodward," says Gage. The lots will be richly-landscaped and enclosed with a wrought iron fence. "We would like to make this lot a model -- set the bar for other lots in the area."

The remaining money will fund a traffic study looking at what's needed to restore two-way traffic to Second and Third Avenues between Grand Boulevard and Palmer. At the same time, bike lanes for Second Avenue will be designed.

New Center will hire a firm to produce the plans this winter. Read more about the future of the Argonaut here.

Source: Karen Gage, New Center Council
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo by Marvin Shaouni

T-PLEX celebrates 100 years of the Model T, unveils new facade

The historic Ford Piquette Avenue Plant has a completely renewed facade. The facelift was unveiled Sept. 27, on the 100th Anniversary of the Model T, appropriate because the first 12,000 Model Ts were assembled at the Ford Piquette site.

The front facade has undergone extensive work to return it to its original 1904 appearance, including window and masonry repair and replacement and the restoration of the original arched entryway that had been replaced by a garage door.

The restoration efforts were handled by architects Quinn Evans of Ann Arbor and contractor Grunwell-Cashero of Detroit. Work went on throughout the summer, and was funded by a $250,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The anniversary was commemorated by a parade of 50 Model T's that also proceeded to Ford World headquarters, Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, The Henry Ford Estate - Fair Lane and The Henry Ford.

Source: Pat Liebler, Liebler Group and Marcia Pilliciotti, T-Plex
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Photo by Marvin Shaouni
222 New Center Articles | Page: | Show All
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